Link Between Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) and Trauma
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental health condition characterized by an obsessive focus on perceived flaws or defects in one's physical appearance. The potential causes of BDD are varied and may include childhood experiences of being abused or bullied, constant criticism or comparison with others over their weight and looks. BDD often co-exist with other mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
The common signs and symptoms of BDD include:
• Preoccupation with body image and finding a flaw in one's appearance
• Constant statement of being ugly or having significant defects in one's appearance
• Believing that others are judging the perceived flaw
• Frequently trying to fix or hide the perceived flaw in a way that is compulsive and difficult to control, such as an eating disorder.
• Comparing one's appearance to others
• Frequent seeking of reassurance about one's appearance
• Seeking multiple cosmetic procedures to little or no satisfaction
• Social withdrawal because of body image
Recent research has suggested a significant link between body dysmorphic disorder and trauma. Children who experience constant teasing regarding their size or appearance are vulnerable to feeling ashamed, leading to a preoccupation with their body image. Sexual trauma survivors, too, are vulnerable to developing BDD as they grapple with the sense of shame and confusion and feeling of betrayal by their bodies.
There are several psychotherapy modalities to treat BDD: Expressive therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. EMDR therapy has been effective in helping trauma survivors to process the traumatic memories that trigger the symptoms of BDD.
Restoring Peace is a private mental health clinic which provides counselling and psychotherapy services for children, adolescents, youths and adult individuals, couples and groups with anxiety, depression, trauma, grief and various mental health and relationship challenges. For more information, please visit www.restoringpeace.com.sg or WhatsApp at +65 8889 1848. For periodic updates, we invite you to join our telegram group, https://t.me/restoringpeace.
Keywords: counselling, psychotherapy, mental health, trauma, psychological, threats, brain, anxiety, depression, abuse, stress, EMDR, body, dysmorphia, emotion, memories